Monday, March 5, 2012

Subatomic particle discovery pushes limits of current physics

CERN / Maximilien Brice, Rachel Barbier
Members of the LHCb team stand in front of their experiment, the LHCb detecor, at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.
updated 3/5/2012 4:40:20 PM ET
Observations of extremely rare subatomic particle actions have allowed scientists to put one of the most stringent limits yet on the reigning theory of particle physics.
Physicists at the world's largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland, have watched a type of particle called B mesons decay into other particles called muons — a very unusual occurrence. By measuring just how often this happens, the scientists can test predictions made by the Standard Model, the theory that governs the realm of these tiny particles.
This theory is very successful at describing all of the known building blocks of matter, including the protons, neutrons and electrons that make up atoms, and many of their more exotic cousins. Yet physicists know the Standard Model is incomplete because it doesn't include dark matter or dark energy.



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